Xie Yang’s bail does not represent a real respite in the crackdown on human rights lawyers in China, Amnesty International said Wednesday (May 10th).
Xie Yang was tried on May 8 by the Intermediate People’s Court in Changsha City, southern China, for “inciting subversion of the state” and for “disturbing the order in court.” He was reportedly released on bail, although no verdicts have been announced.
” This series of unusual events does nothing to alleviate the concerns of torture in this case ,” said Patrick Poon , Amnesty International’s researcher on China. If it’s a relief to know that Xie Yang is no longer in detention, it does not change the fact that he should never have been arrested.
” Released on bail, Xie Yang will likely be subject to constant surveillance and severe restrictions on his freedom of movement, as was the case in other similar cases, ” said Patrick Poon. These methods seem to be the modus operandi of the authorities towards those who defend human rights. ”
The court announced that the trial would be broadcast on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, about 20 minutes before it was opened.
During the trial, Xie Yang said he was not tortured, contradicting the statements made to his lawyers in January when he recounted the prolonged torture he suffered during his detention, including endless interrogations, beatings and deprivation. of water and sleep.
Xie Yang is among the nearly 250 lawyers and activists targeted by an unprecedented crackdown launched by the Chinese government in July 2015.
When his lawyers made public the story of the torture suffered by Xie Yang in January 2017, the authorities rejected any new request from them to meet their client. Another human rights lawyer in detention, Jiang Tianyong, “confessed” in March 2017 to media in mainland China fabricating Xie Yang’s torture stories.
His family was also threatened as part of a scheme to extort from Xie Yang “confessions” and statements incriminating other human rights defenders.
During her trial, Xie Yang was represented by officially appointed lawyers, the authorities having discharged from the case the lawyers hired by her family.
The authorities have repeatedly urged Chen Jiangang, one of the lawyers who initially defended Xie Yang, to stop talking to international media and have opened an investigation into her ability to practice a legal profession.
Chen Jiangang and his family, and activist Zhang Baocheng and his wife, Liu Juefan, were taken away by police while traveling in Yunnan on May 3rd. When they were released, Chen had to drive back to Beijing from Yunnan, escorted by Public Security agents, while his wife and two young children were allowed to fly to Beijing.
” The charges against Xie Yang are unfounded. The authorities know that and that is why they resort to torture and other forms of coercion against him and his family, “said Patrick Poon.
A fierce repression
The detention of lawyer Wang Yu and her family on July 9, 2015 marked the beginning of an unprecedented crackdown by the government on human rights lawyers and other activists. In the following weeks, nearly 250 lawyers and activists were interrogated or detained by State Security agents and in many cases their offices and homes were searched.
Besides Xie Yang, five other people were convicted of “subverting state power.” In August 2016, activists Zhai Yanmin and Gou Hongguo, aka Ge Ping, were sentenced to suspended prison terms. Activist Hu Shigen and lawyer Zhou Shifeng were sentenced to seven and a half and seven years’ imprisonment respectively. Lawyer Li Heping was tried in Tianjin on April 25 and sentenced to a three-year prison term, with a four-year reprieve on April 28. His whereabouts were unknown until he returned home on 9 May. Images show him emaciated and his hair is visibly gray.
Three others remain in detention awaiting the date of their trial or verdict. The trial date of human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang has still not been set. Activists Yin Xu’an and Wang Fang are still waiting for their verdicts after appearing in court in September 2016 and February 2017 respectively.